Streetwear authority Hypebeast is making a big bet on the booming sneaker resale market.

The Hong Kong-founded digital media company has been a major source of information for people who have been selling and buying designer sneakers for 15 years. Now he’s going public in part to fund his own sneaker resale platform, a move that would pit him against marketplaces like StockX and Goat.

The company said Monday (April 4) that it plans to list on NASDAQ through a SPAC deal expected to raise $180 million; it will trade under the symbol $HYPE.

Hypebeast is trying to cash in on what investment firm Cowen called “a booming alternative asset class.” Cowen estimated that the global sneaker resale market was worth around $6 billion in 2019, predicting it would grow to nearly $30 billion by 2030.

There has been a general increase in interest in sneakers. In January, Bloomberg reported that StockX, a leading sneaker resale platform, was gearing up for an IPO in the first half of this year after being valued at $3.8 billion last year. Last November, eBay bought the Sneaker Con shoe authentication service to help with the growing transactions it was seeing.

From advisor to marketplace

Hypebeast, which listed in Hong Kong in 2016, recorded more than $112 million in revenue last year, but most of it came from its editorial and creative agency. Less than 30% came from retail through its HBX e-commerce site, which sells brand name designer clothes and shoes. Until now, Hypebeast had no real interest in the lucrative resale market, where a pair of shoes that sell for $180 can be returned for thousands of dollars.

“It’s a monster opportunity that has barely been touched,” founder and CEO Kevin Ma said during the listing announcement. “The funny thing is that all the e-commerce sites already advertise with us because they really want to reach our audience. But now we’re going to try to do it better than anyone.

Resale sneaker shoppers need more guidance

While almost every media company, from the New York Times to Condé Nast to Hearst, began to merge content with commerce, the opaque nature of resale makes preservation all the more crucial.

Because the price of a pair of shoes can fluctuate wildly in the resale market – buyers are allowed to negotiate with sellers – the level of knowledge to determine a fair selling price is much higher than when selling. purchase directly from a brand.

StockX and other shoe resale platforms have also expanded their content, for example by creating buying guides for popular shoe styles. However, when it comes to curation, Hypebeast has the upper hand since it was a pioneer in the field.

Hypebeast has brought together a number of celebrity investors, including sports stars Tom Brady, Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka, Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia, and actor Jonah Hill, among others.

The company is in a better position than existing players to evolve the global used shoe market. It already has a foothold in international markets through its media site, which also publishes in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Indonesian.